Sunday, October 20, 2019

Watch squirrels stealing acorns for Wester 2019

Happy Wester!  To explain today, I'm going to be a good environmentalist and recycle.
For any new readers who don't yet know the story of Wester, I'm quoting For Winter Solstice 2016, the Archdruid and I discuss Discordianism and fake holidays.
[Me:] Oh, I'm familiar with Discordianism.  I'm single-handedly keeping alive a fake holiday called Wester, which is the first Sunday following the first Full Moon after the Autumnal Equinox.  When I first posted about it, my Discordian friend claimed it for Discordianism.  As far as I'm concerned, it's still a Discordian holiday.
[Greer:] Pinku-Sensei, yes, I thought I remembered you were a closet Discordian. Wester is funny; presumably that was the day that some messiah or other descended from the living?
[Me:] I agree, Wester is funny.  As for an anointed one descending from the living, sorry, that wasn't part of the Wester story that I heard.  However, the holiday has its own animal mascot, the Wester Squirrel, which goes around and gathers goodies to hide instead of hiding goodies to pass out like the Easter Bunny.
Speaking of squirrels gathering goodies and hiding them, BBC Earth caught them doing that and more in Squirrels Savagely Stealing Acorns | Spy In The Wild.

Our spy cam witnesses the claws come out as these fluffy-tailed rodent bandits scramble for acorns!
Spy Squirrel discovers how real squirrels use intellect and subterfuge to outwit other thieving squirrels.
This video should look familiar.  I embedded the preview of it in Silly Squirrels for Happy Wester 2017!  Time to be a good environmentalist and recycle again.
Serves that squirrel right.  That reminds me, it's time for a Wester blessing.  May the Wester Squirrel not steal anything from you and hide it!
Once again, Happy Wester!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Happy Sweetest Day 2019!

Happy Sweetest Day!  Last year, I leaned into the idea that Sweetest Day is a "Hallmark Holiday" in A history of Hallmark for Sweetest Day 2018.  This year, I'm going into the WXYZ archives to share Sweetest Day from 2013.

It was about time I embedded a video from WXYZ for this holiday.

Once again, Happy Sweetest Day!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Vox tells the story of Thomas Hofeller, the man who gerrymandered America

I haven't examined gerrymandering since May, when I posted 'Slay the Dragon' examines the campaign to eliminate gerrymandering in Michigan, so it was about time I do so again.  Fortunately, Vox gave me the opportunity by uploading The man who rigged America's election maps yesterday.  Watch.

The story of the man who gerrymandered America.
When Republican mapmaker Thomas Hofeller died in 2018, we learned exactly how far Republicans were willing to go to gerrymander political districts — and rig elections to give themselves majorities in statehouses and Congress.
While I ended up being wrong when I wrote "I'm much more optimistic about North Carolina's districts being remedied than Wisconsin's, although I'm hoping that the Supreme Court does find that partisan gerrymandering has gone too far," I'm glad to see the state courts do something about the issue now that the U.S. Supreme Court gave them the responsibility.  The door closed, but the window opened.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Carole Cadwalladr describes Facebook's role in Brexit — and the threat to democracy

While "The Facebook Dilemma" earned two Emmy nominations, it failed to win in either category.  However, the subject of Facebook's role in influencing voters is still a topic worthy of examination, as "The Great Hack" explores.  Carole Cadwalladr, the reporter central to the story of "The Great Hack" as she uncovered the role that Facebook and Cambridge Analytica played in the Brexit referendum, gave a TED talk on the subject earlier this year, Facebook's role in Brexit — and the threat to democracy.  Watch.

In an unmissable talk, journalist Carole Cadwalladr digs into one of the most perplexing events in recent times: the UK's super-close 2016 vote to leave the European Union. Tracking the result to a barrage of misleading Facebook ads targeted at vulnerable Brexit swing voters -- and linking the same players and tactics to the 2016 US presidential election -- Cadwalladr calls out the "gods of Silicon Valley" for being on the wrong side of history and asks: Are free and fair elections a thing of the past?
I heard this talk on the TED Radio Hour a couple of months ago and was properly appalled by the material, if not surprised, but it took a fellow Coffee Party USA volunteer and former director to call my attention to the transcript of the talk.  I'm sharing some of the key paragraphs near the end.
Our democracy is broken, our laws don't work anymore, and it's not me saying this, it's our parliament published a report saying this. This technology that you have invented has been amazing. But now, it's a crime scene. And you have the evidence. And it is not enough to say that you will do better in the future. Because to have any hope of stopping this from happening again, we have to know the truth.

And maybe you think, "Well, it was just a few ads. And people are smarter than that, right?" To which I would say, "Good luck with that." Because what the Brexit vote demonstrates is that liberal democracy is broken. And you broke it. This is not democracy -- spreading lies in darkness, paid for with illegal cash, from God knows where. It's subversion, and you are accessories to it.
And what you don't seem to understand is that this is bigger than you. And it's bigger than any of us. And it is not about left or right or "Leave" or "Remain" or Trump or not. It's about whether it's actually possible to have a free and fair election ever again. Because as it stands, I don't think it is.

And so my question to you is, is this what you want? Is this how you want history to remember you: as the handmaidens to authoritarianism that is on the rise all across the world? Because you set out to connect people. And you are refusing to acknowledge that the same technology is now driving us apart.

And my question to everybody else is, is this what we want: to let them get away with it, and to sit back and play with our phones, as this darkness falls?
Democracy is not guaranteed, and it is not inevitable, and we have to fight and we have to win and we cannot let these tech companies have this unchecked power. It's up to us -- you, me and all of us. We are the ones who have to take back control.
It's been three years since I used the phrase "a 21st Century crime scene," but Cadwalladr calling social media "a crime scene" tells me its time to bring it back.  As for any commentary I might have on her talk, I think her words speak for themselves.  I don't need to add my own take; I just need to boost the signal.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

PBS Eons on conodonts for National Fossil Day and Hagfish Day

Happy National Fossil Day and Happy Hagfish Day!  To celebrate, I'm sharing a video about the closest animals to hagfish that are important as fossils, conodonts.  Watch The Most Useful Fossils in the World from PBS Eons.

For decades, one of the most abundant kinds of fossils on Earth, numbering in the millions of specimens, was a mystery to paleontologists. But geologists discovered that these mysterious fossils could basically be used to tell time in the deep past.
I've shown this video to two of my classes.  My geology classes watch it because it serves as a good explanation of index fossils, while my organismal biology class watches it because it describes a lost piece of biodiversity.  Besides, I think it's cool.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Vox explains how American CEOs got rich by buying back their companies' stock

I could not decide what to write about today until I listened to the October Democratic debate on the way home from work and heard Joe Biden mention corporations using their profits to buy back stocks instead of investing in their workers by raising wages and benefits.  I thought "Vox has a video about that."  So here is How American CEOs got so rich, which explains the history of stock buybacks and the role they play in increasing CEO compensation at the expense of workers.

For a long time, it was off-limits for a corporation to buy back its own stock. Not anymore.
American companies today spend billions on stock buybacks. So what does that mean for the US economy? And how did it help make American CEOs so unbelievably rich?
What struck me was the connection between CEO compensation and investor dividends to the closing of GM plants.  Plant closings are one of the issues in the ongoing UAW strike against GM.  So is getting rid of two-tiered wage scales and putting every worker on the same scale, which will increase wages overall, even if it might not benefit those on the top tier much if at all.  Is GM willing to reduce its shareholder and executive compensation so it can pay workers?  I'm guessing it's resisting that idea, which is why the strike is in its fifth week.  At least there are signs GM and the UAW are getting close to an agreement.  I hope that's so.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Thank the Canadians who helped the U.S. land on the Moon for Canadian Thanksgiving 2019

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving again!  This year, I am tying the original Thanksgiving to the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 by sharing The Canadians Who Got America to the Moon from Vintage Space.

The Canadians who helped get Apollo to the Moon...
Amy Shira Teitel has more in her accompanying blog post at Discover Magazine.
The news of the Avro Arrow’s cancellation reached Robert Gilruth in Virginia. Though now in his role as head of NASA’s Space Task Group, the group charged with leading America’s program to launch a man into space before the Soviet Union, he had been following the Arrow since its early development.

Before NASA’s inception, Gilruth had served as Assistant Director of the space agency’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (the NACA). In that capacity, part of Gilruth’s work had been running wind tunnel and free-flight test of early models of the Arrow at Langley and the NACA’s firing range on Wallops Island. He’d been impressed with the Canadians whom he considered a uniquely gifted group of engineers: brilliant, mature, and the perfect mix of talented and professional. Hearing the Arrow program had been cancelled, Gilruth saw a chance to get those minds working on the problem of American space flight. The Space Task Group was close to falling apart under the pressure of figuring out human spaceflight, and with the future of space so uncertain, he was having a hard time finding people willing to take the professional risk of working for the space program. The Canadians, he thought, might fill the gap.

Within hours of the Arrow’s cancellation* (Maynard, Oral History) Robert Gilruth reached out to Jim Chamberlin with the offer of bringing former Arrow engineers to NASA to work on the fledgling space program. Chamberlin in turn put forth a number of his former team members to Gilruth for consideration, and the interviews started immediately.
On April, 9 1959**, the same day the world met the Mercury astronauts, the Canadians joined the Space Task Group at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. They didn’t all know each other; many met for the first time while getting fingerprinted to go to NASA.
By cancelling the Arrow program when he did, Deifenbaken inadvertently gave the American space program its most fortuitous break since when Wernher von Braun found and surrendered to American troops after the Second World War. In true Canadian style, the Arrow engineers never demanded accolades for their work, but many within NASA considered their contributions invaluable. Case in point: When John Glenn sat in the lead car during a ticker tape parade through New York City after his successful Friendship 7’s mission, Jim Chamberlain sat waving from the second car, an appropriately quiet Canadian move.
This story is one of many reasons Americans should thank Canada.  I'll begin by thanking Amy for writing this story and producing the video to bring it to the world's attention.  Thank you and Happy Canadian Thanksgiving from south of the border!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

'Game of Thrones,' 'Ozark,' 'Killing Eve,' and 'Succession'—drama series winners examine political intrigue

"Veep" wasn't the only program to receive a farewell tribute at the Emmy Awards for its final season.  "Game of Thrones" did as well.  Watch A Tribute To Game Of Thrones.

Seth Meyers introduces a tribute to the end of Game of Thrones.
Also like "Veep," the "Game Of Thrones" cast presented an award, in this case Supporting Actress In Limited Series Or Movie.

The Game of Thrones cast takes the stage to present the award for Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.
To see how that award turned out, read 'Chernobyl' dominates Limited Series with ten Emmy Awards.

The similarities end there, for unlike "Veep," "Game of Thrones" repeated its Emmy Awards from last year, earning two for the night and a total of twelve for the season.  I called both of them in Outstanding Drama Series Emmy nominees examine politics and family dynamics, beginning with Outstanding Drama Series, writing "I'm sure "Game of Thrones" will win this award one last time, repeating last year's victory."  Watch Game Of Thrones Wins Best Drama Series.

Game of Thrones takes home the Emmy for Best Drama Series.

As for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, I didn't even bother assessing the chances of the other nominees, writing "Peter Dinklage won this award last year and I think he'll win again this year, so off to the next category."  I took a risk being so dismissive of the other nominees, but I was right to do so as he won.  Watch Peter Dinklage Wins Emmy For Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series.

Peter Dinklage Wins Emmy For Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series For Tyrion Lannister in Season 8 Emmys 2019.
I support that message from Dinklage, especially since I've made a point of emphasizing the importance and portrayal of acceptance and diversity in entertainment.  His speech came up in Emmy Winners for 'Game of Thrones' Full Press Room Speeches from The Hollywood Reporter.

'Game of Thrones' won Outstanding Drama Series and Peter Dinklage won Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series at the 2019 Emmy Awards. Watch their full press room interviews here!
Mark Kelly, brother of Scott Kelly, the subject of "A Year in Space," himself a subject of "Beyond a Year in Space," and candidate for U.S. Senate in Arizona, guessed 90% of the ending?  I'm impressed.  I'm also impressed that Kit Harington was able to handle the final question about the controversy around the ending as well as he did.  Congratulations to Harington and the rest of the crew and good luck on their future endeavors in show business!

In addition to "Game of Thrones," other Emmy winners in drama also tackled themes involving government and politics, particularly "Ozark," "Killing Eve," and "Succession," while "Pose" examined social issues.  Follow over the jump for their awards.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Television Academy pays farewell tribute to 'Veep' while other comedies win Emmy Awards

Speaking of big winners, "Game of Thrones" took home the most Emmy Awards with a full dozen.  I'll see if I can manage to write up its wins as well as those of the other dramas tomorrow.  Stay tuned.
That was the plan I announced yesterday to conclude 'Chernobyl' dominates Limited Series with ten Emmy Awards.  However, I meant it when I wrote "I'll see if I can manage" to follow through; there was always a possibility I wasn't up for it for one reason or another.  So it shouldn't surprise my readers that I decided I would rather tackle "Veep" and the other Outstanding Comedy Series nominees today and save the Outstanding Drama Series nominees tomorrow for a big finish to the series.  At least I'm blogging about the Emmy Awards.

I begin by noting that the Emmy Awards paid tribute to "Veep" with a montage of the funniest scenes followed by a skit featuring the actors in character on last time.

The Emmys says farewell to the VEEP.
Yes, the bit doubled as the lead-in for an award.  That's what happens when an awards show has no host.

Before the show, Julia Louis-Dreyfus talked about the end Of Veep on the red carpet and admitted she was nervous.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus talks about ending Veep and what's to come.
She was right to be nervous; neither she nor the rest of the cast and its writers won a single award.  I wasn't surprised.  I wrote "The final season of "Veep" will have to be content with its Golden Coffee Cup for Best Comedy Series about Politics and Government."  That was premature.  "Veep" won for its sixth season; its final season will be eligible for the next awards, as I noted in August.
In this category, both the professionals and the Coffee Party's volunteers agreed; "Veep" was the best political comedy of 2017.  It will be around to defend its award in the next round, as the show's final season is eligible for 2018-2019, just as it is for this year's Emmy Awards.  Its toughest competition will probably be "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" — all of our volunteers have NBC, but not all watch HBO.
It might be the final award for the show proper should it win (the actors and others may have better chances at individual awards).  As I wrote in September, "I'm not even sure the Golden Globes will deliver for ['Veep' and 'The Good Place']; they were the first to jump on the bandwagon for 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' and might prefer 'Fleabag' or 'Schitt's Creek' over either."

One last time, farewell to "Veep."  Follow over the jump for the winners.

Friday, October 11, 2019

'Chernobyl' dominates Limited Series with ten Emmy Awards

I explained the common theme among most nominees for Outstanding Limited Series along with my opinion of their chances last month.
Four of the five nominees depict failures at some level of government, ranging from the catastrope of "Chernobyl" through the miscarriage of justice in "When They See Us" to the incompetence in "Escape at Dannemora" and "Sharp Objects," while the fifth, "Fosse/Verdon," is about show business.  The most nominated with 19 nominations as well as the most winning so far with seven Emmy Awards is "Chernobyl," the fictionalized story of the meltdown of the nuclear reactor, with 19 nominations.  "Fosse/Verdon" is the next most nominated with 17 nominations and the second most winning with three statuettes, followed by "When They See Us" with 16 nominations and one trophy.  "Escape at Dannemora" has twelve nominations while "Sharp Objects" has eight nominations; neither has any wins so far.

My personal favorite is "Sharp Objects," but I think its best chances are for Outstanding Lead Actress and Outstanding Supporting Actress.  It's not going to win this category.  Instead, I think this contest is among the three nominees that already have awards, "Chernobyl," "Fosse/Verdon," and "When They See Us" with "Chernobyl" favored.  However, I think it will be close, as "When They See Us" is just as well acted and about an issue closer to home, literally, while "Fosse/Verdon" enjoys the advantage of being about entertainment, albeit musical theater, not movies and television.  All things being equal, that would give it a good chance of upsetting the other two leaders, but I'm not sure all things really are equal.
I was right; things weren't equal.  Deadline Hollywood reported "In the Limited Series race, Chernobyl prevailed, taking three trophies including the top prize."  Watch ‘Chernobyl’ Wins Outstanding Limited Series at 2019 Emmy Awards.

The HBO miniseries took home the coveted award on Sept. 22 at the 71st Primetime Emmys. The show beat out fellow nominees ‘Escape at Dannemora,’ ‘Fosse/Verdon,’ ‘Sharp Objects’ and ‘When They See Us.’ While accepting the award, show creator Craig Mazin spoke about how he hoped the show would remind people of “the value of truth.”...‘Chernobyl’ was also nominated in five other categories and won best writing for a limited series and best directing for a limited series. The five-part series debuted on May 6 and concluded on June 3, where it quickly became IMDb's top-ranked TV show of all-time on June 5.
IMDB examined two parts of the story in the description above.  Watch Jared Harris and Stellan Skarsgaård of "Chernobyl" Celebrate Their Emmys Victories With Creators.

#Chernobyl co-stars #JaredHarris and #StellanSkarsgård, along with writer Craig Mazin and series director Johan Renck, talk about how their Emmy wins are a celebration of their entire cast and crew.
I was skeptical about Renck's chances, but directing the best limited series put him ahead of Ava DuVernay, who I thought had a good chance.  On the other hand, I was rooting for "Chernobyl" to win the writing award, so I got my wish.

The next video begins with "Chernobyl" becoming the top-rated TV show on IMDB and delves into the premise of the show, How "Chernobyl" Splits Atomic Facts from Fiction | IMDbrief.

On this IMDbrief, we'll split atoms of fact from fiction in the stunning HBO miniseries, "Chernobyl.
That segment really helped me understand why and how "Chernobyl" came to be, so thank you, IMDB.

I expect lots more awards for "Chernobyl," including Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, and all the various guild awards, followed by the EMA Awards to finish out its awards show run.  However, the next honors may come from Coffee Party USA, as I expect "Chernobyl" to be nominated for the Golden Coffee Cup for Best Miniseries or Movie for Television about Politics and Government when I run the awards for the 2018-2019 season.  "Black Mirror" has serious competition.  I'm looking forward to it already.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the limited series winners.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

WUSA shares a suicide prevention message for World Mental Health Day

WUSA in Washington D.C. had a message for its viewers this morning: It's World Mental Health Day, let's change the stigma.

It's World Mental Health Day! This year's focus is on suicide prevention. Every 40 seconds someone dies from suicide, according to statistics.
Suicide and its effects have driven at least two of the stories I have followed on this blog over the past two years, both of which began with Anthony Bourdain's and Kate Spade's deaths call attention to rising suicide rates in the U.S.  The first was how suicides have been driving down life expectancy in the U.S. for three consecutive years.  The second was my coverage of "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" at awards shows.  The first is the big picture, while the second personalizes it for America through the loss of someone they know about.  I'm not alone.  Coffee Party USA published September was Suicide Prevention Month and Chronic Pain Awareness Month last month, written by one of my fellow volunteers.  Read it, please.

I'll be back tomorrow, most likely with an entry about "Chernobyl" and the rest of the Outstanding Limited Series winners.  Stay tuned

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Verge Science looks at the current state of farming insects for food

I had no idea how much I needed a break from blogging about both impeachment and the Emmy Awards until I saw a video about eating bugs show up on my YouTube notifications.  Shiny!  Since I haven't written about the subject since Bill Nye thinks eating bugs will save the world more than a year ago, I'm sharing Verge Science's Taste-testing crickets from a high-tech insect farm.

Around the world, two billion people eat insects regularly. In the US and Europe? Not so much. But, some entrepreneurs think it’s time. We take a tour of the startup cricket farms trying to kickstart a new industry, and sample some insect snacks ourselves.
Just like the video, I began my serious examination of entomophagy by asking What will nine billion people eat for protein?*  Also like the video, I referenced the U.N. report in Now the U.N. says edible insects are the future of food.  As for the boom, that coincided with Cracked on insects as a food of the future.  The bust coincides with my not writing about the topic for more than a year.  As my readers can see, I've been following this story all along, even if I haven't been as diligent about it as I have about the Retail Apocalypse.  I'm glad to see another revival of interest in the topic as well as a quality report on the state of cricket farming.  I will recommend this Verge Science video to my students and not just to gross them out.  They will definitely learn something from it.  I know I did!

*My less serious first post about the topic was Travel is broadening, especially the food about my personal experiences eating insects in Mexico.  That was just about me and the bugs, not about the broader implications of the practice for the environment.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Vox explains the phone call that could get Trump impeached

Last week, Ezra Klein of Vox argued for impeachment even if it doesn't result in conviction and removal.  This week, Vox explains the basis of a possible impeachment, The phone call that could get Trump impeached.

The impeachment inquiry into President Trump started with a phone call. And what makes it noteworthy is actually how simple it is.

Trump’s White House released a rough transcript of his call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. It shows Trump asking a foreign country to investigate a man who could challenge him in the 2020 election: Joe Biden. But to understand exactly what Trump wanted Zelensky to do, we have to get into a theory Trump has peddled about Biden.
According to this explanation, Trump got the story backwards.  I shouldn't be surprised.  Trump has a weakness for conspiracy theories.  I also am not surprised that floating one about Joe Biden is backfiring.  It seems to be part of a pattern, as I noted in a comment on A Dumpster Fire on a Garbage Barge at Kunstler's blog.
"They turned on him...because he made the fatal mistake of trying to take down a fellow member of the ruling elite."  That seems to be true of the Democrats as well.  Swalwell attacked Trump [I meant Biden] at the first debate.  Next thing I know, Swalwell drops out because he didn't make the next debate.  Harris also attacked Biden. After the sugar rush of that wore off and she failed to follow up at the next debate, her fortunes fell.  Besides, she pissed off people like my mom and my wife; they didn't like her attacking Biden.  Castro attacked Biden at the third debate, now he's warning his supporters he may not make the November debate.  Trump went after Biden and Democratic Representatives in Republican-leaning seats who had been avoiding impeachment pile on.  Directly going after Biden personally does not seem to be working for candidates.  Instead, it seems to work against them.
Just the same, that hasn't stopped Trump and his supporters from trying.  FiveThirtyEight shows that Fox News is trying to make the Bidens the center of the scandal, not Trump.  The good news for Biden is that it keeps him the most mentioned Democratic candidate in the news.  The bad news is that it might taint Biden in the eyes of Democratic voters, but I'm not sure about that.  As Perry Bacon Jr. of FiveThirtyEight said, Biden is essentially arguing “I’m so electable that Trump is already trying to cheat to beat me.”  I tend to agree with that.  Once again, attacking Biden directly is backfiring.  Let's just hope impeachment itself doesn't backfire on the Democrats in Congress.

Monday, October 7, 2019

'Black Mirror' repeats as winner of Emmy for Outstanding Television Movie

"Stay tuned for more Emmy winners," I wrote at conclusion of Watch 'Saturday Night Live' have fun with impeachment after winning six Emmy Awards.  On that note, it's time to follow up on The 2019 Outstanding Television Movie nominees examine politics, technology, and show business.
After looking at science, diversity, and political satire, I finally get to write about an Emmy nominee that is speculative fiction, "Black Mirror."  It's the one I'm rooting for, as it's both the two-time returning winner as well as the current holder of a Golden Coffee Cup for television as Best Miniseries or Movie for Television about Politics and Government.  It's also the only nominee to win an individual achievement award at the Creative Arts Emmys, Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media Within A Scripted Program.
The interactivity of "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch" played a key role in its coverage, beginning with 'Bandersnatch' Wins Outstanding Television Movie at 2019 Emmy Awards from  Entertainment News Bytes Network.

'Bandersnatch' Wins Outstanding Television Movie at 2019 Emmy Awards The episode of Netflix's hit series 'Black Mirror' beat out HBO's 'My Dinner with Herve' and Amazon's 'King Lear.' The choose-your-own-adventure style sci-fi thriller is the first interactive Netflix film geared towards an adult audience. Set in London during the 1980s, 'Bandersnatch' takes its title from a choose-your-own-adventure book over which the main character, Stefan, is obsessed. A developer in the early days of gaming, Stefan dreams of adapting the book into a subversive video game. 'Bandersnatch' allows the viewer to choose different paths for Stefan to take as he teeters on madness while working on the game. The movie has five different endings. 'Bandersnatch' is directed by David Slade and stars Fionn Whitehead and Will Poulter.
For an obvious clickbait channel, Entertainment News Bytes Network did a good job on this clip.  I might use their videos for future entries.

Since I could not find a video, official or otherwise, of the winners actually accepting their award onstage, I will have to be satisfied with two interviews of the winners backstage.  First, The Hollywood Reporter's Emmy Winners for 'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch' Full Press Room Speech.

'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch' won for Outstanding Television Movie at the 2019 Emmy Awards. Watch their full press room interview here!
That's the same kind of wry commentary about current events that Charlie Brooker gave when 'Black Mirror' USS Callister won Outstanding Television Movie last year.  As for his answer to the question about interactivity, it reminds me that the "Clue" movie had three endings.*  I think that a remake of "Clue" as an interactive movie might be worth doing.

IMDB gets the last video on my blog tonight with "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch" Breaks New Ground With Emmy Win.

#Bandersnatch wins! Executive Producer Annabel Jones, writer Charlie Brooker, and producer Russell McLean don’t know why #BlackMirror keeps winning Emmys, but they’d be happy for you to tell them. The winners also discuss the joy of the first interactive feature win for Outstanding Television Movie. #Emmys
Congratulations to the producers, writer, and director of "Black Mirror" for their string of Emmy wins.  They are also the current holder of  the 2017-2018 Golden Coffee Cup for Best Miniseries or Movie for Television about Politics and Government.  That may be at risk later this year, however.  As I wrote in August, "Watch for 'Black Mirror' to return as a nominee for next season.  My pick for its toughest competition is 'Chernobyl.'"  Speaking of which, "Chernobyl" and the rest of the Outstanding Limited Series winners should be the subject of the next installment of this series.  Stay tuned.

*My date and I saw the lamest ending possible; the butler did it.  It was so lame that Wikipedia claims it was "unused."  Actually, it was used, but did not make the video.  No loss.

Previous entries in this series.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Watch 'Saturday Night Live' have fun with impeachment after winning six Emmy Awards

I told my readers at the end of Celebrate 'Last Week Tonight' winning four Emmy Awards with 'Psychics', "Speaking of SNL, that show will be the subject of my next entry about the Emmy winners.  Stay tuned."  SNL won six Emmy Awards, four at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards and two at the Primetime Emmy Awards.  I'll list all of them over the jump.  Right now, watch Lorne Michaels Emotionally Accepts The Emmy For Saturday Night Live | EMMYS LIVE! 2019 from Fox.

Lorne Michaels reminisces about SNL's long-running history and emotional moments last season as he accepts the Emmy along with the cast of the show.
Appropriately for October, this clip will turn into a pumpkin later this month when Fox takes it down and the Television Academy uploads its copy onto its YouTube channel.  I'll replace it then.

The show itself was not alone in winning a Primetime Emmy.  Don Roy King won a statuette for Outsanding Directing for a Variety Series.  Watch "SNL" Director Don Roy King Celebrate His Ninth Emmy Win from IMDB.

Longtime #SaturdayNightLive director #DonRoyKing confirms that no matter how many times you win an #Emmy, it never get[s] old.
Congratulations!  Here's to yet another great season.

Speaking of which, as impeachment is the big story of the week, it's no surprise that SNL had their own comedic take on it.  Watch two clips from last night's show on the topic, beginning with Mike Pence Impeachment Strategy Cold Open.

Vice President Mike Pence (Beck Bennett) consults with William Barr (Aidy Bryant), Rudy Giuliani (Kate McKinnon) and Mike Pompeo (Matthew Broderick) to strategize about his options during Trump's impeachment investigation.
Rudy Giuliani as The Joker made a good punchline.  If I call Trump The Penguin, then someone has to be The Joker.

Next, Weekend Update: Trump Brushes Off Impeachment Concerns not only covered impeachment, but also alligators in the moat for the wall.

Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che tackle the week's biggest news, like mounting evidence of corruption against Trump in his Ukraine impeachment scandal.
I felt better about the week's news after having a good laugh at it, just like I almost always do, although I thought the joke about Bernie Sanders' heart attack was a bit cold.  Funny, but cold.

Follow over the jump for all of the Emmy Awards SNL won.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Celebrate 'Last Week Tonight' winning four Emmy Awards with 'Psychics'

I concluded 'RuPaul's Drag Race' wins Outstanding Competition Program while RuPaul tells viewers to register to vote by telling my readers to "Stay tuned, as I plan on covering the awards won by 'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver' and other talk variety shows and their hosts."  The show won four Emmy Awards, Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Series and Outstanding Picture Editing For Variety Programming at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards and Outstanding Talk Variety Series and Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series at the Primetime Emmy Awards.*

Since I already used "The Wax and the Furious" from "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver" for Presidents Day, which won Outstanding Picture Editing For Variety Programming, I'm going to celebrate by embedding the other Emmy-winning episode, Psychics, which earned the Emmy for Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Series.

Psychics may seem harmless and fun on TV, but they can make a lot of money by exploiting vulnerable people.
This is not my usual political fare, but I am a scientist and educator, so I'm going to defend reason against superstition, just as John Oliver and his writers do here.

I thought "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" was the favorite to win Outstanding Variety Talk Series for the fourth consecutive time and it did.  Watch Emmys 2019 - Jon Oliver wins for the fourth time to see Oliver accept the Emmy.

The Emmys talk show category win for last week tonight with John Oliver...

The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards honored the best in U.S. prime time television programming from June 1, 2018 until May 31, 2019, as chosen by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
First, zoologist me has to point out that Oliver is the voice of a hornbill, not a toucan; there are no toucans in Africa, the setting of "The Lion King."  Second, his reference to municipal tax districts reminds me that the Reedy Creek Improvement District was lucky not to be mentioned in the segment and that I should eventually get around to embedding the segment.  Finally, as I wrote for RuPaul's acceptance speech, "If and when the Television Academy posts an official clip of this award, I'll replace this one with it."

Speaking of official clips, watch Variety's John Oliver Celebrates 'Last Week Tonight's' Emmys Win Backstage.

John Oliver, host of "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver," celebrated his Emmy win and weighed in on whether the ceremony should've had a host or not while backstage.
Congratulations to Oliver and his crew for all four awards.  Here's to another outstanding season!

*This is the same number of Emmy Awards it won last year but a slightly different set of categories, as the series won Outstanding Interactive Program then instead of Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Series.  NASA won Outstanding Interactive Program this year, much to my pleasant surprise.  I also thought SNL would win Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Series, so, surprise to me again.  Speaking of SNL, that show will be the subject of my next entry about the Emmy winners.  Stay tuned.

Previous entries in this series.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Ezra Klein of Vox argues for impeachment even if it doesn't result in conviction and removal

With the call for an impeachment inquiry over KievGate, Ezra Klein of Vox decided it was time to update how to impeach a president.  Watch Impeachment is broken. Impeach Trump, anyway.

Three reasons to impeach Trump.
President Donald Trump faces possible impeachment after repeatedly asking the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, Trump’s chief domestic political rival, a week after Trump froze Ukraine's military aid. When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky brought up the aid, Trump responded, “I would like you to do us a favor though,” and turned the conversation to Biden. All of this is confirmed in a call record released by Trump’s own White House. There's now an impeachment inquiry as a result of this revelation.

In 1788's Federalist 65, Alexander Hamilton considers the problem of impeachment. The process, the Constitution framer writes, is meant for offenses “denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

Fundamentally, Hamilton believed it was the task of an impartial Senate to decide whether or not to convict a president that has been impeached. Hamilton, however, hadn't envisioned a Senate as partisan as the current one.

Still, even a broken impeachment process has its uses. The Senate may refuse its role, but through a properly designed impeachment process, the House can focus the public’s attention, send a message to the world, and create a record for the future.
Klein reinforced his message at in the article Impeach him, anyway, "The case for impeachment, even if it can’t oust Trump."  It lists three purposes: "impeachment as public disgrace," "impeachment and the 2020 election," and "impeachment is a message to foreign countries."  I like the argument.  I just hope it works.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

'RuPaul's Drag Race' wins Outstanding Competition Program while RuPaul tells viewers to register to vote

Now that I've posted Nike's 'Dream Crazy' wins Emmy for Outstanding Commercial and shows the power of diversity, it's time to start reviewing the wins by the competition shows whose nominations I listed alongside "RuPaul's Drag Race," which led competition shows in Emmy nominations.  I begin with the headline award which was presented along with all the other major categories.
Outstanding Competition Program

The Amazing Race (CBS)
American Ninja Warrior (NBC)
Nailed It! (Netflix)
RuPaul's Drag Race (VH1)
Top Chef (Bravo)
The Voice (NBC)
I think "RuPaul's Drag Race" displays the most acceptance of diversity, althugh the other competition shows have diverse sets of contestants.  It's also the returning winner and has the most nominations of the shows in this category with nine, thirteen if one adds the four from its unstructured companion shows "RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked," "RuPaul's Drag Race's: Out Of The Closet," and "RuPaul's Drag Race's: Portrait Of A Queen," so I consider it the odds-on favorite.  Its biggest competition is probably "The Voice" with seven nominations.
As I expected, "RuPaul's Drag Race" won.  Watch 71st Emmy Awards: RuPaul's Drag Race Wins For Outstanding Reality-Competition Program - | 2019 in which RuPaul told the audience to register to vote.

Rupaul Wins “Best Reality Competition” | EMMY 2019
RUPAUL’S Drag race
If and when the Television Academy posts an official clip of this award, I'll replace this one with it.

RuPaul repeated his request of the viewers to register to vote in Entertainment Tonight's RuPaul - RuPaul's Drag Race | Emmys 2019 Full Backstage Interview.

I'm glad to see RuPaul using his platform for a greater civic purpose in addition to his show being a showcase for diversity and acceptance.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the awards for "RuPaul's Drag Race" and the other competition shows at this year's Creative Arts Emmy Awards.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Since Trump is acting like Dr. Evil, it's time to read The Evil Overlord List

The New York Times reminded me yesterday of Adam Serwer's column last year in The Atlantic that The Cruelty Is the Point with the headline Shoot Them in the Legs, Trump Suggested: Inside His Border War.
Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate.
Why am I reminded of villains in movies, from Indiana Jones...

to Captain Hook and the tick-tock crocodile from "Peter Pan"...

and finally Dr. Evil's wish for sharks with laser beams on their heads from "Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery."

There's more, but it's not funny.
He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That’s not allowed either, they told him.
The article described the closest Trump came to getting his wish several paragraphs down.
The happiest he had been with Ms. Nielsen was a few months earlier, when American border agents had fired tear gas into Mexico to try to stop migrants from crossing into the United States. Human rights organizations condemned the move, but Mr. Trump loved it.
It gets more disturbing from there.

That level of cruelty and depravity reminds me of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen from "Dune."  It turns out I found just the image for the resemblance.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Nike's 'Dream Crazy' wins Emmy for Outstanding Commercial and shows the power of diversity

I closed out 'Point of View: Sandy Hook Promise' among Emmy nominees for Outstanding Commercial by handicapping the nominees.
Now that I've shared the nominees, it's time to make my prediction.  If I used just YouTube views as a measure of popularity, then the leader is "Shot on iPhone XS — Don’t mess with Mother" with 37,786,876 views, followed by "Dream Crazy" with 29,983,349 views, "A Great Day in Hollywood" with 561,033 views, "Behind the Mac — Make Something Wonderful" with 466,516 views, and "Point of View" in last place with 242,452 views.  It looks like the gun violence control PSA should just be happy to be nominated.

Now, if this were the People's Choice Awards, I think it would be between "Don't Mess with Mother" and "Dream Crazy" with the latter favored on emotional appeal.  However, this is an awards voted on by entertainment professionals, who like flattering or at least interesting portrayals of show business, so I think "A Great Day in Hollywood" has nearly as good a chance of winning as the Nike commercial.  My readers and I will find out on the 14th or 15th of September, when the winners of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards are announced.  Stay tuned.
I was right to think Nike's "Dream Crazy" was the favorite, as it won.  Here is "the most inspirational of all the nominees, Dream Crazy by Nike.  It features Colin Kaepernick, so it has a political dimension from that alone."

Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough.
"Watching that made me tear up."

While it featured overcoming hardship to achieve greatness, the winning commercial also featured the power of diversity of all kinds in sports without being explicit about it.  It was also a great example of advertising as art.  Congratulations!

I plan on returning with more Emmy winners tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

Previous entries in this series.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Forever 21 files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse

I wrote that Forever 21 was facing bankruptcy just three weeks ago.  Today, Forever 21 declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  WXYZ reported on this tale of the Retail Apocalypse on location from the Oakland Mall in Troy, Michigan.

The chain said it will file a motion to close up to 178 of its more than 800 stores, though it said in a letter to customers that "the decisions as to which domestic stores will be closing are ongoing, pending the outcome of continued conversations with landlords."
WXYZ excels at person on the street interviews, which in this case show that the regular shoppers had little to no idea that one of their favorite stores was in trouble.  At least they seem as concerned about the employees as they do about losing their place to go for "fast fashion."

As WXYZ mentioned, Forever 21 is closing down operations in 40 countries including Canada and Japan.  CBC News examined this angle in Forever 21 files for bankruptcy in U.S., to cease operations in Canada.

Fashion retailer Forever 21 has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. to restructure. The company said it plans to discontinue operations at most of its international locations, including Canada.
The customers outside of the Oakland Mall location may worry about their local store closing.  Forever 21's customers in Canada know their store will close.

Of course, if there are losers, like Forever 21, there will be winners, which CNBC examined in Here are the winners and losers of the retail apocalypse.

CNBC's Courtney Reagan and Lauren Thomas, retail reporter, join the "Power Lunch" team to discuss brick-and-mortar stores and where millennials and gen-Z are shopping.
The panel did a good job of at least touching on all the issues and major players in less than three minutes, although I noticed that the host quickly diverted the discussion away from sustainability when it was brought up.  Instead, she was more interested in the possible winning companies to invest in than a major cause of Forever 21 failing.  Things that make me say "hmm."

I promise to keep following this story as it develops.  In the meantime, stay tuned for the first entry of October, which begins in a few hours.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Celebrate National Coffee Day 2019 by donating to Coffee Party USA

Happy National Coffee Day!
Whether getting one to go or lingering over a second cup, on September 29 be sure to observe National Coffee Day!
As I did last year, I am asking my readers to celebrate National Coffee Day by contributing to Coffee Party USA.  Time to be a good environmentalist and recycle what I wrote on National Coffee Ice Cream Day.
I am celebrating National Coffee...Day by asking my readers to donate to my favorite nonprofit, Coffee Party USA.  I am a director and officer of the organization and I just donated $88.00 in addition to my regular $10.00 monthly dues.*  That's far more than I expect my readers to donate, so instead I am asking my readers to please make a donation to match what I donated on National Nonprofit Day or my regular monthly contribution.

I described where your money and mine will go in Coffee Party USA announces the winners of the 2017-2018 Golden Coffee Cups for television
Coffee Party USA ia a 501c(4) nonprofit social welfare organization dedicated to empowering and connecting communities to reclaim our government for the people.  To support its efforts, which include educating the public on our website and on our Facebook page, registering people to vote with our partners TurboVote and National Voter Registration Day, and reminding them to vote through our Voter Buddy program, please consider donating.  A donation of $10.00 for ten years of Coffee Party USA is recommended.  For those who wish to give at a higher level of support and be more involved in the organization, please consider becoming a member.  To do the valuable work of the Coffee Party, as well as vote for future Golden Coffee Cup nominees and winners, volunteer.  Not only will Coffee Party USA thank you for it, so will the country!
The Board of Directors is also holding its annual retreat at the end of this month, and your donations will help support our meeting while we plan the direction of the organization through next year.

Thanks for reading my appeal and even more thanks if you matched my dues through your donation or became a member.
*I decided this year that I would make a matching donation to Coffee Party USA for any donation I made to any other nonprofit this year.  Since I just renewed my my dual membership to the Detroit Zoo for $88.00, that means I matched it for the Coffe Party.  I also donated $40.00 last month to match the $40.00 I paid to vote in the 2019 Saturn Awards.  I'm not asking my readers to match those donations, but if any of you did, the Coffee Party and I would appreciate you and your donation!
Now treat yourself to a cup of coffee.  There are lots of deals out there today.  Go find one!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

The rise and fall of Dillards, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse

It's time for another installment of tales of the Retail Apocalypse.  Today's episode comes from Brick Immortar, The Destiny of Dillard's: An Immortalization by Brick Immortar.

Now that we know the inspiring destiny of William T Dillard... in the modern retail climate, what IS the destiny of Dillard's stores?

Thanks for watching!
Sam of Brick Immortar did this with the help of Erik P. of Retail Archaeology and it shows.  Good work.  Also, when he asked if he should do this project, I not only said yes, I told him I would post this to my blog.  I'm following through on my promise.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Music for a scandal, the Great Gate of Kiev

"I have one more humorous post about the scandal planned for tomorrow.  Stay tuned."  That's how I ended Colbert and Noah explain Pelosi's announcement of the impeachment inquiry opening yesterday and that's how I begin today's post.

Ever since Watergate, Americans and others designated nearly every scanda by affixing -gate to its name.  The situation leading to the just announced impeachment inquiry could be called Ukrainegate, but there is a shorter and funnier name for it, KievGate.  A Google search for the term shows that the Italians are all over it already.  Why let them have all the fun?

Furthermore, the name has a ready-made piece of music for it, Modest Mussorgsky's "Great Gate of Kiev."

Douglas Gamley conducts his own orchestration of the finale from "Pictures at an Exhibition," with the New Symphony Orchestra, the Men's Chorus of the Ambrosian Singers, and the organ of Kingsway Hall, London. From the Readers Digest 10-LP set "Music for You," produced by Charles Gerhardt (published 1968).
Of course, my tastes in music dictate that I find a marching ensemble playing it.  I have just the version, 1987 Santa Clara Vanguard - Great Gate of Kiev.

Nice magic trick.  I hope Nancy Pelosi and the House of Representatives can pull off one just as stunning.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Colbert and Noah explain Pelosi's announcement of the impeachment inquiry opening

I concluded Slotkin and Stevens join calls for impeachment inquiry by typing "Now more Americans will be watching news about the inquiry than watching "Chernobyl" on HBO Go or Amazon Channels.  I'll probably be one of them."  I then watched three monologues and a cold open about the news.  In the first monologue, Stephen Colbert tells his audience Buckle Up America: Pelosi Moving Forward With Trump Impeachment Inquiry.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quoted founding father Benjamin Franklin today in her speech announcing the beginning of an official impeachment inquiry against President Trump.
Good thing the studio audience didn't buckle up.  Otherwise, they wouldn't have been able to give Nancy Pelosi a 40-second standing ovation for announcing the inquiry.

While Colbert's audience had the best reaction, Trevor Noah had the better explanation in Trump Pressures Ukraine to Investigate Biden & Impeachment Looms.

Nancy Pelosi announces a formal impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump after a whistleblower complaint alleged the president pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
As promised, Noah's monologue the next day examined the memorandum of the call in Trump’s Ukraine Call Released.

The White House releases a memo of Trump’s potentially impeachable call to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, and Democrats and Republicans predictably paint the call record along party lines.
As FiveThirtyEight wrote about the memo (it's not really a transcript), If This Is Trump’s Best Case, The Ukraine Scandal Is Looking Really Bad For Him.  Also, the real thing as almost a bad and as funny as The Late Show with Stephen Colbert's fantasy of it, Trump's Call With Ukraine Leader Sounds A Lot Like Blackmail.

The Late Show has obtained this exclusive audio recording of President Donald Trump's call with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky.
It sounds like blackmail, but it's more likely to be extortion.  Either one is a crime.

I have one more humorous post about the scandal planned for tomorrow.  Stay tuned.